Sunday, July 08, 2012

REVIEW Take This Waltz (2011)

Genres: Comedy | Drama
Director: Sarah Polley
Writer: Sarah Polley
Stars: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman

I don't think Sarah Polley will ever be a successful mainstream filmmaker. And I don't think I want her to be. Her debut feature, Away From Her, was a beautifully-filmed slice of heartbreaking human drama, a soap-operatic love story treated with honesty and humanity. For that is the essence of an independent movie (not counting those directors for whom the indy scene was either a way to be hip or a backdoor "in"), a quiet human drama. Many will say Take This Waltz feels more like a first film for Polley; I say it feels like a Sarah Polley film, beautiful yet uncomfortable, predictable yet surprising, painfully honest yet visibly hopeful.

Michelle Williams plays child-less Canadian housewife Margo who tries to navigate the thin, uncomfortable line between grown-up resignation and child-like exuberant passion. But try as she may, no matter how much of a nice guy her husband is (played by a surprisingly NOT annoying Seth Rogen), she is visibly suffocated by the routine of her normal, simple life. Her chance meeting with buff new neighbor Daniel (Canuck fellow Luke Kirby, for his best work check out the first season to Sling & Arrows), an artist with a similar passion for his outlook on llife, will put her on the cutting edge of a choice to make. 

Polley's many visual metaphors, though in no way very subtle, are nevertheless visually powerful and emotionally arresting, like the scene of a shared carnival ride that goes from cute to awkward to wild fun but ends abruptly to emptiness and silence. The film presents us a love story in its entire honesty, one we all know by heart from our every day lives but which we try to escape by watching movies about fairy-tale love. For this love story is not about two soul mates who meet, but about trying to live a life of passion without paying the price. 

"I like shiny new things" says one of Margo's friends in shower scene where she and two other "firm" ladies are shown next to their elders sporting bodies which sustained the ravages of time. "New things are what old things used to be" replies a comfortably-naked Sarah Silverman. And that is the essence of the twist pulled on us by the storyteller, that nothing truly ever lasts, and all that remains are the choices you make. For in the end, a love story this is not, but one about life as we truly live it. None of these characters are truly likable, yet none of them can be despised even if we do so. Life, as we know it. 

Bottom line, Sarah Polley's promise as a burgeoning independent filmmaker is being upheld with Take This Waltz, offering a simple and not overly original story and making it something equally sweet and heartbreaking that is impossible to resist, unless your preferences are more directed towards Michael Bay's brand of non-cognitive entertainment. In that case stay away. And I mean hazmat-suit precaution with this puppy.

Final Word: 8/10

Wanna watch it? Use this link and thank me later!

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